DECATUR — At a campaign kickoff Wednesday, Marty Watkins said he will be focusing on neighborhood revitalization, local community safety issues and crime reduction in his run for city council in next year's consolidated election.
"I am determined to work with community leaders, the mayor, police and fire departments, clergy, business owners and all city council members to ensure that all voices of this great city are heard," Watkins said before a crowd of supporters at the Decatur Civic Center lobby Wednesday night.
Watkins, 56, is an Army veteran, Decatur native, and graduate of Martin University in Indianapolis. He also founded the "Walk in My Shoes" campaign, which donates shoes to students of Decatur Public Schools.
Watkins ran in 2017 for city council and lost with 4,298 votes.
"I'm a retired disabled veteran and that will give me time to serve the community," Watkins said following his remarks. "It's called a part-time position, but is a full-time position."
Watkins also said he was interested in making changes to curfew rules for teenagers in the city and addressing issues between local landlords and the city.
Watkins was one of two city council candidates, along with accountant Shavon Francis, who filed nominating petitions at the opening minutes of the filing window with the city clerk. On Tuesday he lost a lottery draw with Francis for the top spot on the ballot for city council.
"I wanted to No. 1 on the ballot, but I'm satisfied being No. 2," Watkins said after the Tuesday draw. "Just to be on the ballot, that we didn't have to have a primary, I'm excited about that."
After Francis and Watkins, the ballot order for the three city council seats up for election in April are Taylorville Correctional Center Warden Shelith Hansbro, incumbents Lisa Gregory and Bill Faber, followed by auto garage owner John Phillips, Jr. and Rodney Walker, CEO of Skywalker International Sports Complex. Councilwoman Dr. Dana Ray opted to step down at the end of her term.
It's unclear what, if any, effect ballot order has on candidates' chances in Decatur's municipal elections, but the prevailing wisdom in ballot strategy, according to City Clerk Kim Althoff, is that last is better than second-to-last.
"Some people want to be last on the ballot if they're not first on the ballot," Althoff said.
While more than 17 residents took out petitions to run in the race this fall, the number of candidates that ultimately filed their petitions did not meet the threshold to force a February primary. Voters will now have until the April 2 election to decide their city leaders.